Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developers: Double Eleven, Tarsier Studios, XDev (Europe)
Release Date: 19 September 2012 (EU) – 20 September 2012 (JP, AUS) – 25 September 2012 (NA)
System: PS Vita
Little Big Planet PS Vita Review
Every once in a while you come across something that completely ruins all of the perfectly good prejudices you had spent years developing. You might meet a cat who, instead of being elusive and mysterious, is in fact very pleasant and forthcoming with information. Perhaps you will drunkenly collapse into a gutter that is not only entirely devoid of urine and cigarette butts, but also contains loose change and a small container of shaved ham. Or maybe, just maybe, a video game you picked up almost apprehensively turns out to be the most fun you’ve had in a long time. Such an event would be a rare treat indeed; which is why you should take a little time out of your day for LittleBigPlanet on the Playstation Vita.
To get something out of the way immediately, before playing this game I had never done the whole LittleBigPlanet thing. I wasn’t a follower of the Sack. Quite the opposite – I took one look at that little rag-doll with his beady little eyes and passed the game off as a childish platformer. Upon playing the Vita version of the game, my opinion hasn’t changed at all. LittleBigPlanet is a childish platformer. It just turns out that I am still a child.
When you first begin LBP, you’re greeted by a moustachioed puppet wearing a top hat who refers to you almost immediately as a Sackling. Needless to say, I was sold from that point on. He’ll introduce himself as Colonel Flounder, as you do, and then proceed to teach you the basics of the game. And the basics are where things really start to shine. The control scheme is fairly easy to pick up, but complicated enough to keep you hooked throughout each level; you’ll need to utilise both front and rear touch screens and all of the Vita’s buttons in order to progress through the game, flicking platforms for Sackboy to wander across, rotating cogs and solving puzzles.
Graphically, the game is (and I really hate to say this) adorable. Whether a level is set in a Burton-esque land of eerie shadows and funhouse mirrors or swimming through a lush forest, each is designed perfectly. Because of that, you’re more willing to stick around and explore, which in turn means you find more collectible items – including new costumes, levels, in-game stickers and decorations for your Pod (more on that later). With the huge variety of looks and ways to customise your character, it becomes very difficult to grow bored of playing with your Sack (I apologise for the ‘sack’ puns, but they were asking for it).
The LBP series places a huge amount of emphasis on user-generated content. I’ll admit I had my misgivings upon hearing this. In the past, some games have attempted user-generated content for the sake of it, and done it badly; Infamous 2 springs to mind. Naturally, more user-generated levels and games for LBP will pop up over time, but what I saw from throwing together levels myself, there should be plenty to keep long-term players entertained.
To provide a steeple to the Church of the Sack are the mini-games. They’re scattered throughout the world to provide extra layers to the game – and they’re just difficult enough to provide that satisfying feeling of accomplishment without actually being hard enough to make your brain hurt. That pretty much goes for the whole game. Don’t go into LBP expecting Dark Souls (the two are oft confused), as it’s more about the fun than the challenge with this one.
LittleBigPlanet’s first mission to the Playstation Vita is, as I say, a rare treat. Provided you go into it with an open mind, and don’t have your fingers crossed for Skyrim, you’ll do just fine. The use of the Vita’s features is perfectly executed, the gameplay is fun and fast-paced, and the music is catchy and repetitive and therefore perfect. Very rarely have I approached something with such a childlike sense of wonder, ambling through a colourful paradise of vibrant landscapes, populated with a host of eccentric characters. And a sack.
+ cute graphics, stunning level design
+ gameplay is fun and addictive
– control scheme may cause your wrists to bend in ungodly ways
– may cause lack of sleep, loss of attention to work and/or study